Well, I just got read the riot act by a friend of mine. I was lamenting how difficult it was for me to say “no” to things like playdates; she pointed out that I don’t owe anybody a reason for not wanting to make plans. “No” is, apparently, a sufficient answer.
I grew up with the notion that when you’re invited to do something, you say yes unless there’s a direct conflict. And when you have to say no, you explain why you can’t do it so the other person doesn’t feel bad. Mr. December was the first person I knew who would actually say, upon being invited to something, “No.” And when asked why not: “I don’t want to.”
That was news to me. I could just skip events because I didn’t want to go? Wow.
So back to my friend and her words of wisdom. She said, “Sara, you and I are forty years old. We are too old to be letting people deplete our energy when they’re not even particularly close to us!” Well, when she put it that way, it sounded absurd. Why on earth would I say “yes” to something for someone I rarely (if ever) see or speak to, and then be too tired to read my kids a book at bedtime? How messed up is that? And how messed up is it that I couldn’t really see that for thirty-nine years of my life?
As Ontario gradually opens back up and people are allowed to gather in small groups again, I’ve felt my anxiety level rising. I’ve been very happy in this little cocoon, with my closest family, on our own schedule. Saying “no” to other people is always a bit stressful for me, as if I feel responsible for their feelings if I say no to whatever they’re asking me to do. I’ve found myself wishing more often than not that I could just live this life for a few more years.
The truth is that I should be able to craft the life I want for me and my kids. Mr. December and I had a conversation on Friday (standing in the freezing waters of Lake Ontario) about how we’d like to do something brave or outrageously different, like homeschooling for the year and travelling with the kids. Or something far simpler, like putting a six-month moratorium on evening or weekend extracurricular activities, in order to preserve time for a work period in the morning and family time in the evenings.
Sometimes fear creeps in: If our kids take a year off extracurriculars (dance, choir, etc) will they be very behind most kids their age when they go back? Will they be missing out on gaining skills and mastery in those areas?
Maybe. But maybe they’ll be just where they need to be — at home with us, playing outdoors with their best buddies, spending time with their grandparents, and learning the importance of family, community, and being able to set your own boundaries.